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Boxing

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Graphics & Motion

The first time I had the privilege to see this game in action, I was immediately struck with a sense of authenticity.

From skin tone, muscles – both flexed and relaxed – robes, trunks, facial expressions; at times it seems you’re watching a real fight.
Seeing Tyson’s classic solid-black trunks sway and move with the action was hypnotic.
You’ll also find yourself staring at the smallest of details such as the tape wrapped around each fighters glove. Or the way each fighter’s muscles will contract and bulge when throwing a punch.
The replay feature in this game will be used often by those that purchase this game.

An earlier preview on ESPN mentioned the realistic spray of sweat and blood. I believe the analogy of snowflakes was used and it’s an accurate one. No two sweat sprays are alike.
Watching your fighter become bloody and bruised is a bitter sweet experience. Obviously if your eye’s are swelling or a nasty cut has spread blood across your cranium, you’re probably not doing as well as you’d like. However, the visuals of real-time damage look so good, you’ll be asking for a Muhammad Ali one-two to the face.
 
Fans will also be pleased to hear that various fighters I saw looked exactly like their real-life counterparts. Tattoos, facial features and even those who carry an extra bit of weight are portrayed well down to their last jiggly detail.
Even some of the more outrageous movements of current pugilists were captured to perfection.

Not only are the details outstanding within the squared circle, but the action outside the ring is just as eye pleasing. During the course of a fight, you’ll see the three judges, ring doctor and photographers sitting ring side. The photographer’s even lean in on the apron trying to get a better shot of the action. And of course they move out of the way when the two combatants venture too close.

The crowd also has a sense of life as fans will leave their feet when something exciting occurs inside the ropes. You’ll even see random flash bulbs fire off over the course of the bout.

EA Canada’s art director, Jenny Freeman, should sleep well at night knowing that the visuals for this game are second-to-none.
Her work also helped assure me that my recent purchase of a high-definition LCD was a great investment.


Physics

With the power of the next generation consoles, many sports games are taking advantage of their processing power and incorporating lifelike physics into gameplay. When done well, the games take on a more organic feel rather than a static, or predetermined course, that have plagued sports games in years past.
Let me say that the physics in Fight Night Round 4 are astonishing. Every part of the fighter’s body has real weight to it; even the gloves. Just wait until you watch that first replay after crashing a hard left-hook into your opponent’s skull. You’ll notice that the gloves will compress and depress after making contact.
Arms will become entangled, gloves will bounce off shoulders – even missed shots can result in opportunities as your forearm can wrap around your opponents neck holding it in place, allowing for an open opportunity for a right-uppercut to the jaw.

During your fights, you’ll notice that punches will never hit the same place every single time. As the fighters roll, block, side-step or fire off shots, punches will careen off of every body part, making each punch unique from the last.

It should also be noted that with this new physics engine, fighters have a far greater variance in the sequences they can pull off. The producers recorded the limitations of Fight Night Round 3’s fighters and found that if you strung all the sequences together you would achieve no more than 17 minutes of action.
In Fight Night Round 4 there is 42 to 45 hours of stringed action, with each fighter having up to five hours of linked sequences.
This equates to far more depth and organic encounters. Truly, no two fights are the same.

That’s all for now. But keep your eyes open for more hands-on news as we progress towards release day.

Thanks.

Henry Dyck
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Where to begin?

Actually, for me, the EA experience kicked off while sitting in a Dallas airport on route to Vancouver.
After finding my departure gate, I look up and see a familiar face. I had to do a double-take until I realized it was Jason Thompson from the EA Tiburon, Orlando team. I had recognized him from a recent video that was posted on the EASports official Fight Night website, http://fightnight.easports.com/.

After introducing myself, he brought me over to the meet the rest of the Tiburon group. This team was responsible for covering the event, capturing video and pictures as well as lending commentary.

As I was about to find out over the next 72 hours, all of them were friendly, fun and absolutely crazy.

EA representative, Alain Quinto would be our guide for the event. It was the first Community Event he's coordinated but you wouldn't know it by how smoothly everything took place.

Once in Vancouver the festivities began at a local sports bar at 8pm PST that included food, drinks and two LCD's hooked up to Xbox 360's playing Fight Night Round 3.

All of the community leaders were there. Everyone but me. Here's a little advice; don't trust hotel wake-up calls. Mine came in the form of a two-rap knock on the door that barely stirred me from a hibernous sleep. Any parent with small children will attest to that.
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For a person who grew up with "Mike Tyson's Punch Out!!" I was ecstatic when I heard that EA Freestyle was releasing an 'over-the-top' boxing game entitled "FaceBreaker".
Using the same premise of creating a boxing game with outlandish characters, each with their own personalities and styles, EA hopes to capture the interest of many whom enjoyed being bullied by Soda Popinski or Mr.Sandman.
While FaceBreaker connects with some of it's creative punches, it whiffs or falls flat with others.
Utilizing a very stylized cartoon graphic set, each opponent has a unique look that will have you reminiscing of Ready 2 Rumble. Not only that, but each venue is both visually and audibly appealing. The Trailer Park for instance, features the melodious sounds of baby's crying while you're pummeling or being pummeled in the squared circle.
Another area FaceBreaker excels in is the boxer creation mode. Using either the Playstation Eye, Xbox Vision camera or even uploading personal photos to EASportsWorld.com, you can create boxers that resemble yourself, friends or even celebrities - which can all be shared online.
Unfortunately, once you get past the wonderful visuals and creation tools, FaceBreaker's simplistic gameplay may leave you wanting more. While the game is advertised under the guise of a boxing game, it's more accurate to describe it as a fighting game.
Against the CPU, the game degrades into a button mashing free-for-all, with the CPU usually coming out on top, depending on which difficulty level you chose.
Two buttons control head or body shots, and holding one of them down executes a hook. You have zero control over which hand you want to throw.
While there is a small degree of strategy in blocking and parrying, the gameplay is so manic your best strategy is to simply let the buttons fly.
If you manage to string together a series of punches a meter will fill allowing you to execute a haymaker. If you land one of these overpowering punches, your opponent will be sent to the canvas at which point the game gives you the option to break his or her face. As the title advertised, you will be rewarded with watching your opponents face being demolished in cartoonish fashion.
Speaking of breaking faces, damage is real time so you'll see busted lips, eyes and brows over the course of a bout.
Where frustration might set in for anyone who picks this title up is how, at times, the CPU seems to transform into an indestructible force. No matter what amount of punches, parry's or blocks you throw, as Ivan Drago once said, 'You will lose'.
That's why this game is probably more appealing as a multiplayer game where you and a friend can throw down in an attempt to break each others face. It's still going to degrade into a button-mashing brawl, but using the parry and block features you can salvage some semblance of ebb-and-flow from the game.
There are different modes to keep your interest for a short time such as Brawl for it All, Quick Fight and Couch Royale. Brawl for it All has you work up the ladder defeating one opponent after another in hopes of collecting five championship belts. Couch Royale is a tournament style mode where Quick Fight explains itself.
In conclusion, while the developers who were behind the creation of each of the colorful characters in the game deserve applause, one wishes the gameplay was just as deep.
Those looking for an engaging exaggerated look at the sweet science will be disappointed. The frustrating CPU AI will have make you feel cheated and the overly simplistic controls and gameplay might have you wanting more.
Where I see this game shining is in college dorm rooms where buddies can create themselves and then revel in smashing each others faces into hilarious contortions.
Otherwise, it would be in your best interest to rent or wait for Fight Night Round 4 if you're thirst for boxing needs to be quenched.
Overall: 6/10.
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